I really liked this one. It’s probably my favorite Newbery winner up to this point. I feel like I really got the main character. I think everyone who works with kids on a daily basis has those days when he or she just wants to float away in a balloon for a year, and read books. This man taught MATH for 40 YEARS. I totally get it. He sticks to his guns, too. When he’s stranded on the island, and teaching is the only way he can contribute to the local society in a valuable way, he refuses to tell the inhabitants that he was a teacher because he’s afraid of being coerced into teaching again. He’s like. “Even if I am stranded on an island, and I’m the only one here mooching, I’m retired, man. I’ve put in my time, and I’m going to sit on the beach all day.”
The ending was very fitting. The whole book, Sherman’s only motive is to get away from it all and relax, so when he comes into some money, he announces that he’s going to buy another balloon, and even though he’s had some traumatic balloon experiences, he’s going to try to sail away again. Not a very dynamic character, by any means. His adventures don’t change him in the slightest, but he’s hilarious and it’s a pretty darn good book.
There is some brief, Native American racism in the beginning (Who gets up in the morning and walks outside beating their chest? Besides gorillas, I mean, and apparently, even when there aren’t any white people around, Native Americans still speak to each other in dumbed down broken English) but it was very brief, and only lowered the overall quality of the book a very tiny bit.
I give it 4 out of 5 Newbery Pies
Next up: King of the Wind